Resilience of global food supply chains

The movement of food around the world is an important reality of today’s globalised, urbanised and heavily populated world. Even small disruptions within the supply chain can result in cascading impacts that have negative consequences from farmers to consumers.

The Resilience Shift’s focus is on the resilience of critical infrastructure systems, and we recognise that complex global supply chains (of food and other commodities) rely on transport, energy, water and communications to retain core functionality under diverse shocks and stresses.

Our work to date has told us that in the food sector, there are multiple and diverse threats, and that the resilience of infrastructure has limited visibility, with a tendency for supply chains to react to unexpected events rather than to proactively plan for them. In an industry dominated by private sector actors, there is no common understanding of the wider system, and hence no joined-up approach to taking steps to improve its resilience in practice.

This brief report presents the findings from a global series of workshops, engaging stakeholders from across the food supply chain, seeking to benchmark how the resilience of critical infrastructure is understood and dealt with in practice. It presents a global view of current practice, highlighting common themes and regional and organisational differences. Enhancing the resilience of the global supply of food requires everyone in the supply chain to understand the system and its vulnerabilities in order to be able to respond to and recover from unexpected events.

Publication date: 25 June, 2019
Authors: Darren Briggs, Graham Stewart, Gerard de Villiers. Published by the Resilience Shift in collaboration with Arup.